Vancouver Stories P 3: Good Job, Mr. Jones

Day 3; Okay, so this one is actually the least directly inspired by Vancouver (even explicitly stating it’s not Vancouver), but so much of what it’s concerned with are things my profs have really come to force me to think about over the course of my degree–things like climate change, class structures, and the stories we tell ourselves to make it all seem alright. Overall, it’s probably my favorite thing I’ve written so far (having a manic energy and scope the rest haven’t quite achieved yet). Also, it’s a helluva lotta fun to perform. Enjoy! 

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I wonder what my head would look like from outer space? you ask as you move into another God-ass-awful day at your God-ass-awful workplace. And you think of all those Martian prime-time ratings, and well, maybe I could be on Martian TV. We could be a reality sitcom now too, right? You wonder what your head would look like from up there, up from the stars and the reflection off the second sun, if your sneezing and your grumbling would make for great drama somewhere past the seventh planet. Maybe it could work: maybe they would love me.

But then, you already know the answer as the clock trudges towards lunchtime. You know the way the President loves his approvals and the boss loves his margins. You know when you look up and across at the miles upon miles of cubicles, the perpetual shuffling of papers and ringing of phones, you then that know you’re lost in the maze, chased by a fat minotaur force-fed on the same junk food shit you and all your friends eat. There’s no golden string this year around to find your way out, and barring any unexpected Lotto-649’s, there won’t be next year either. Good job, Mr Jones, it looks like you lost the myth again.

But it didn’t used to be, you say as you drum the pencil across the lined paper, it couldn’t be, could it?

So your mind drifts and fades like the Fax machine at the ringing edge. You think about all the times before this fucking moment (after moment after moment) that your family did better than you are right now.

Making your way through family woodsman history, that’s the life for you. Now suddenly you’re your great-great-something, lost in that new-land sort of abstract destiny myth: choppin’ through the trees, working across the land, the rivers and the hills from one edge to the other. What a place! What a country. You set house by the river in the thick of things, make do at the farm, make do with the last of the saw and the first of the iron.

What did any of them assholes want anyway? A bigger future, or just a tidier home, nicer kids and a sweeter wife? Even that word, wife; making cake with discarded ash trays of such, that fifteenth cigarette when it’s all gone to mould and you’re taking business trips into the wilds of the big city for days and weeks on end. Now, suddenly, you’re your great-grandfather. Now you’re at the edge of town, no longer just collecting water from troughs or swinging to saloons. No, your land is yours, and one day you’ll grow enough of it to find yourself in suburbia, to sell off all those miles of forests to the mining ventures who are practically licking their lips just thinking about all that shimmers underneath Your Hill. It is your hill after all, right? Your grand papy gave it to your father, your father’s now strapped to some bed upstate, breathing last will n’ testament, you’re ready to grab the rest of it now. And what does suburbia look like from outer space huh? Those curling lines and those Nazca cul-de-sacs, what kind of gods are we praying to when we get lost in our automobiles, lost in manufactured peculiarity, just searching for the shopping marts or some kind of garden-variety Jesus?

And you’ll find this will all start to happen, happen again: as you can move up into the bigger and the newer and the closer to the metropole (towerheads gleaming above the rooms on those warm, misty mornings). You can go out and move up as the mining company boroughs in and saps the rest. Because it was yours to give to someone else, and hey, if someone knows how to Help Himself to all that’s under there (just a bunch a’ big ol’ rocks anyway), then what’s the Big Deal? Share the wealth: before you had two nobody’s driving on parallel highways, now you have two very-fat-cats readying their next biggie with the dividend.

And you’ll see it’s all happening—happening now! Grant gets to grow up and win a football scholarship; you foot the rest and he settles upstate, bumming with the richer, ] older families, driving shift in the back-country greens, sneaking booze above the pool, pulling pranks on the girls’ college across the river. Suzy’s asked to stay at home: (there’s not enough money for both kids, ya know, expenses expenses). Grant grows a degree and uses it to throw stones at Madison Ave—right across from yoru office. He moves ‘cros town, gets some tattoos and some bad Jeff Airplane albums, grows his hair forms a band, uses free love to get lots of free sex. Suzy gets tired of the burbs and decides to run. She burns her bra, cuts her hair, makes a big problem for everyone involved. She talks about rights, the blacks talk about jobs, the gays talk about beds. (There’s a moment in your office, glass all scotched up, that it seems like the whole world is fracting, cracking, drifting apart. Not since those so-many greats ago got on a famine-ridden ship from Ireland has everything been so fucking chaotic, so fucking new and terrifying).

But things’ll carry tight and move on.Grant pulls out in time before it all crashes into Nixon’s Pentagon, decides that now’s the time to use you for a favor with—well woddaya know, look Dad the desk already has my name on it! Grant goes out and makes that name bigger n’ bigger, all that hunger for justice he had a decade ago is now more like the hunger for the next sell, hunger for the big squeeze and the crashing and burning of every other white guy in a suit. Hungry for money and a house in every major luxury capital—the villa in Milan, the apartment in Paris, the manor in the Hamptons. It’s been so long now the old money can’t be separated from the new. Suzy’s protests burn a little brighter, flame a little more, so give her and them what they want: let them have a little bit of the share as long as you keep getting bigger; give them a bit of the pie you’re too full to eat anyway. Grant gives Grace and Michael half n’ half as promised: a whole lifetime of Well What Would We Do Without Our Amex. Grace does enough dance lessons to be a double at the Barishnikoff; later she’ll fund her own studio somewhere on 54th near Park and all her shows will be ‘To Die For.’ Michael will learn Japanese, then learn Mandarin when it seems it suits Wall Street a little better. He’ll make global friends to play golf with on the side of Fuji or in that New Oka place somewhere near Montreal.

He’ll be in the air so much he starts to lose track, forget what the ground feels like or how trees smell after it rains. But man, being this high feels so fucking good! Getting it bigger and bigger, because the more those wings cut past the clouds, the scarier it looks down there…stocks will spike, stocks will plumet, wars will bomb and factories will move across oceans. Because what does it matter what you’re head looks like from planet earth, you’re so high you’re making the fucking deals with the martians on their own fucking golf field, you’re riding in on their wave, you’re making your television show. Look at the stars from up here—holy shit! It’s like nothing you ever could have imagined, even dreams start to seem so base and so plebeian. Fuck them and their rhythmic logic! No one understands you anyway. Fuck them and your ex-wife, fuck the people who say it’s gonna end, and fuck the fucking words that question any of this!

So you’re young again: the world is your oyster right? Well it’s a smaller oyster now, maybe, maybe. Dad lost a lot of it and you gotta scrape it all back up, put in the time at the boss you knew you’d hate till you die. But look alive kid! You’re into the rush of things: downtown, the buildings and the cars looping roundinaround, screaming careening echoing elevating. Freedom, freedom in the crazy and the panic for the sell. It’s getting ready and you, you just have to take the first step. Who cares that it’s just another fucking day in just another fucking office in just another American city? Across the globe people filling cities like fish in barrels or logs in steels huts, China’s making bridges across the ocean and Russia’s forcing steel penises into the sky, higher and higher till it all runs down.

What does the world look like from up there? Does it still look green and blue? Or is it all just the grey, the grey you brought with you on that famine-ridden ship all those centuries ago? Is it just as grey as a Beijing morning or your forest after that forest’s gone? Remember when grandpappy owned it? Whatever happened to all that cash? He still died didn’t he? He still had to get old and frail and ugly right? You remember those visits to the home: he crawled along like any other sucker in there, right? Or is he still somewhere up there, bumming it up with the aliens?

So you’ll tell yourself this story as the world trembles, threatens to spill out across itself, spin off axes, out into distant stars; you’ll give this point A ta B ta C and you’ll say ‘Good Job Mr Jones.’ You’ll make sense of your story through the words you couldn’t quite say on your own, you’ll say words for what your senses couldn’t possibly wish, what your breathing and shy blood won’t slide to in the thick of it all. You’ll make sense against the crying and the shaking and that growing sense… you’ll make do and you’ll be ready for the next big leap. So get going, pardner. Show em’ all you got. Get fierce, and get ready, just remember: we’re allllll watching you!

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